May 10, 2010
Interesting, but overwrought
Voth's problem here is that he doesn't listen to himself.
He clearly states that many of the names are given by old women who "of course" can't be expected to create names with any level of science to them. Then he proceeds to try to take each name apart for meaning as if each had been given with great science and regularity. He gives the most ornate images and scenarios when someone could have easily meant something much simpler.
He never considers the possibility that not all names are created equal. That is, while some names may be created with thought, care, and originality, many of them are at the state of later Germanic or Hellenic names: what it "means" doesn't really matter. The name-giver just takes a root used by their clan, sticks on a conventional stem, and it's a legitimate item in the onomasticon. Thus, it is not necessary to figure why a corn ear or a bluebird should be a "maiden": it's much simpler (Occam's Razor) to take the name as meaning "girl of our Corn/Bluebird clan."
So take his meanings with a big chunk of salt and use the information he collected, rather than how he interpreted it.